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10 Tips for Shooting Video in Athens

Posted by Kim Moseman on January 4, 2019

Athens is the capital of Greece and one of the world’s oldest cities, dating all the way back to the Neolithic age.  As the heart of Ancient Greece, it is home to many 5th century archaeological ruins and is generally considered to be the birthplace of western civilization. Today Athens is a bustling metropolis with plenty to offer any traveling producer. But what should you know before your next video production in Athens? We talked to DP Apostolos Nikolaidis about the top 10 things you need to know before shooting video in this Greek city.

10. Permits: Most locations in Athens don’t require a permit to shoot, except at the archaeological sites. Getting a permit in Greece usually takes a lot of time, so plan accordingly before your trip. It can also be costly in the archaeological locations, depending on the use of the footage. Shooting inside the metro requires a permit as well. For more information on obtaining a filming permit in Athens, click here.

9. Ancient Ruins: If you remember anything from your history classes, you know what an ancient epicenter Athens was. Capturing some shots of The Acropolis, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Ancient Agora of Athens are ideal if you want to highlight the history of the city. However, you will most definitely need a permit to shoot at these locations. “From the Lycabettus Hill, grab some wide shots of the city overlooking the Parthenon and reaching to the sea,” Nikolaidis said.

8. Weather: Set in a Mediterranean climate, you can expect warm and mild weather in Athens. Mostly sunny year round, the best time to shoot is from March to November. Winters are a bit cloudy from December to February. “Bring your Neutral Density filters with you, you are going to need them,” Nikolaidis said.

7. Language: The official language of Greece is, no surprise, Greek. Roughly 99% of the population speaks it. But the most common foreign languages learned by Greeks are English, German, French and Italian. “Most of the Greeks are fluent in English and are willing to help,” Nikolaidis said.

6. Traffic: Like in any major city, traffic is going to happen during rush hour times. Locations where traffic is at its peak can vary, but you can definitely expect it in the city center. Nikolaidis says its nothing like Manhattan, but it should still be accounted for during tight shooting times.

5. Transportation: Your best bet to navigate through the city is to use the metro. The red, green and blue lines will get you around the city most conveniently. “You can reach most of the desired destinations,” Nikolaidis said. “It’s precise and fast, although it can get busy during rush hours.” But if you have to carry a ton of equipment from location to location, a rental car or a taxi is the way to go.

4. Parking: Street parking is available across the city, but private parking in Athens will not break the bank. “For 10 euros, you can park for a few hours in a closed garage downtown,” Nikolaidis said. And like in any other major city, if you park outside in the street never leave your equipment inside your car.

3. Equipment: There is a good industry of renting equipment in Athens, if needed during your visit. “You can find plenty of rental houses in Athens to rent equipment, from cheap DSLR’s to ARRI Alexa’s, RED, Zeiss optics and Cooke,” Nikolaidis said.

2. Syntagma Square: As the center square of Athens, this area has housed Greek Parliament since 1934. The square also serves as a transportation hub for the city. “It is usually crowded with Athenians going shopping or to work,” Nikolaidis said. Syntagma Square is a prime location for capturing b-roll of locals and the modern aspects of the city.

1.Cuisine: We all know how Greek food is adored all over the world, so indulging in some traditional Greek cuisine is a must. Some classic food you probably know are gyros, tzatziki and Greek salad. Some lesser-known Greek dishes are souvlaki, saganaki, revithokeftedes and taramosalata.  Nikolaidis suggests going to “2 Dekares I Oka” for the best Greek cuisine. You can find more suggestions here.

Key takeaways:

-The ancient ruins are prevalent all over the city and iconic to Athens, but you must get a permit before shooting at these locations.

-While there are convenient methods of public transportation, a rental car is most ideal if you have a lot of equipment. Just be conscious of traffic.

-Language: There shouldn’t be any kind of language barrier while in Athens. Most street signs are in English and locals are usually willing to help visitors.

Do you have a video production coming up in Athens, Greece? Click here for a free quote!

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